So often lately I have noticed the invocation of 2 Chronicles 7:14 as if it alone were the answer to all of our problems.
It seems appropriate enough. It certainly is a simple prescription. But one is left asking how, if we humble ourselves through prayer, if we seek His face, if we turn from our wicked ways, how do we bide our time when God has obviously chosen to not heal our land. Is it a simple matter of insufficient numbers not turning, or an insufficient depth humbleness, or a turning completely? And what do we do as await God's healing of our land? I continue to resonate with the thought of resignation, in all of its glorious notions of surrender, defeat, giving up, et cetera. We surrender our understanding, our claims, our interests, our rights, our desires, to the Lord's will. We accept the fact that He has chosen (in His Infinite Wisdom and Perfect Timing) to not act in the ways we have decided He should. For the last couple of mornings, as a part of my assigned devotional readings, I have been processing Psalm 103. But at the same time each morning, the word has come "Psalm 130." I wasn't able to shake it and so I resigned myself to turning to that and read:
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
I suggest that if we should but pray this Psalm, as fervently as we insist the 2 Chronicles passage is necessary for us as a nation, we might be far better "resigned" to God's will. In fact the thought occurs to me that we might each benefit from actually taking the time to sit down and to compose a letter to God communicating our resignation to His will.
At the same time I am working on this Sunday's sermon. It will unpack that great passage in Philippians 4:10-13 - Paul's confession: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." The word content understood through the OT and NT reveals a far greater understanding of this concept of contentment. It is a clear resignation, a willing obedience, and even a state of being pleased to abide in God's will irrespective of what it brings: suffering, misery, shame, punishment, disaster, and even great loss as well as wealth, joy, happiness, or health/healing beyond our wildest expectations. When we truly abide in Christ, His Spirit dwells within us and we are able to rejoice always and to give thanks continually.
It's a sermon, I am really looking forward to preaching. And it is a truth I hope that I can experience in all of its fullness. My prayer is that each of us will ever-increasingly experience the ability to rejoice in each and every one of our circumstances. EVERY. ONE. OF. YOUR. CIRCUMSTANCES. For that is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus!